We all have our favorite, go-to restaurant orders. These are the dishes that we know and love, that fit our preferences like a glove, and even bring a sense of comfort when life is harsh. At an Italian restaurant, lasagne bolognese might be your craving, or maybe kung pao chicken is your usual Chinese food order. The fact that you know and love these dishes helps you understand the way restaurants typically prepare and present them, which gives you insight into the orientation and vision of the kitchen.
If you order your favorites at a new restaurant, how those plates come to the table is a good signal for whether the place is a good fit for you. Take kung pao as an example. If you're accustomed to a fiery Sichuan version, with mouth-numbing Sichuan peppers and plenty of chilis, and the new place you're trying serves a mild version with bell peppers instead, it's a good signal that the other dishes on the menu may not be what you expect, either.
What's On The Plate Is What's In The Chef's Mind
The presentation of your favorite food order at a new restaurant can tell you if the chef is a traditionalist, or is looking to innovate on the old standards. Did you get a traditional lasagne, or a "deconstructed" concept? You'll also know from the plate garnishes how much attention to detail the kitchen gives the food as well. If the plate is messy, or lacking in composition — meaning the food is just haphazardly put in front of you — perhaps the kitchen is less organized than it should be. These are things you might not know if you order dishes you're not accustomed to. If you don't normally order eggs Benedict, you might not know when the Hollandaise sauce is too acidic, or the poached eggs overcooked -- all signs of a thoughtless kitchen.
Of course, we recommend keeping an open mind when you're out to eat – your favorites are just a small set of what a restaurant offers, and a new preparation might even change your mind, if all goes well. However, if you've got a benchmark order for a bakery, pizzeria, or your other frequently visited restaurants, you might just learn a thing or two when you try it out at a new hot spot!
Read the original article on Tasting Table.